Weekend Picks ~ 2-24-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Some interesting thoughts for your weekend reading, not that it’ll change your mind at all…

Why Facts Don’t Change Our MindsElizabeth Kolbert
The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted…

The Stanford studies became famous. Coming from a group of academics in the nineteen-seventies, the contention that people can’t think straight was shocking. It isn’t any longer. Thousands of subsequent experiments have confirmed (and elaborated on) this finding. As everyone who’s followed the research—or even occasionally picked up a copy of Psychology Today—knows, any graduate student with a clipboard can demonstrate that reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational. Rarely has this insight seemed more relevant than it does right now. Still, an essential puzzle remains: How did we come to be this way?


It’s a fact that people who consider themselves committed to their church actually attend much less often than they used to. I believe it’s an unhealthy development that we should fight to change…

Church Member! Fight to Attend Your Church Weekly!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
This is not just another paper urging the unsaved to just ‘get to church’. This essay is for those whom God has saved and who have obediently committed themselves to a local church and submitted themselves to the leadership of that church. This is an essay for the saved to reorient the focus on the Lord and on His church because this in our culture can distract and disrupt and cloud our minds at times.

My argument? Fight with all your might to attend your church weekly. I’ll provide 7 simple reminders…


To Give a Good Answer, Sometimes You Have to Change the QuestionMelinda Penner
As Christians representing God’s Word, we have to be able to explain the bigger picture. In the case of homosexuality, pornography, and sex outside of marriage, we need to explain what God’s plan is for human sexuality. The reason there are negatives in the Bible is to protect the positives…

…When confronted with direct questions about what the Bible teaches about sex, you probably need to answer a somewhat different question to give a good answer. Instead of answering the question, “What does the Bible teach about being gay?” it might be more effective to help the asker actually understand the answer if you respond to the more relevant question, “What does the Bible teach is God’s design for sex?” In that context, the answer to the question he asked will make more sense.


Worship leaders, this might be worth thinking about…

http://www.challies.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Challies_Feb19-25-05.pngPastors, parents, worship leaders: Are you teaching any songs that can be sung acapella around a hospital bed in 50 years? -Kevin DeYoung


Your Kids are Not Family Decision-Makers
Melissa Edgington
Somehow we have gotten it in our heads that kids want a say in everything. Wrong! Kids want you to figure all that life junk out and let them go play with bugs in the backyard…

Childhood is so short. Let kids be kids. I know many of you don’t believe it, but kids like to be told what to do. They like knowing you are in control. It gives them security. It makes them feel protected and taken care of and safe.


If I lived in the wild west…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/bizarro-2-18-17-WEB.jpg
Bizarro

Luke 9:28-36

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:28-36
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure,[a] which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how they knew it was Moses and Elijah.
Glowing clothes, a supernatural cloud, a voice from heaven, and this is what grabs you?
Do your best to separate your familiarity with the story and try to imagine experiencing it as James or John.
Can you do it?
What are your emotions?
How do you react?
Do you want to build a memorial like Peter?
Why do you think they decide not to tell anyone about this?
How would people respond if they did?
How would people respond to you, if you did?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday Picks ~ 2-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Yes. Yes, it is…

It’s a Wonderful Time to Be ChristianGarrett Kell
America is facing turbulent times. Political unrest is unceasing. The racial divide is deepening. Fear and frustration swirl frantically.

This leads to only one logical conclusion: It’s a wonderful time to be a Christian.

Christians are uniquely equipped to thrive in tumultuous times, not because we are great, but because our God is. As we consider the darkness of our days, I’d like to share five reasons I think it is a wonderful time to be a Christian in America…


Beautiful and vulnerable. Maybe you can relate…

I Am AfraidSamuel Sey
I do not know when or where I’ll take my last breath. But I do know where I’ll be after I draw that last breath. My last breath on earth will be my first breath in heaven.

This is why I am not afraid to die. When I die I will be safer than I’ve ever been, the most unafraid I’ve ever been. I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to live.


I’ve been wondering about this movie…

The Problems With ‘The Great Wall’ Are More Than Poor RatingsSeth Hurd
Unfortunately, there’s also a very grim side to the changes the trend could bring. 

Humankind has a bleak history of choosing comfort and novelty over the welfare of their fellow man. As far back as the battle to outlaw slavery in England in the early 1800s, some Brits felt an inner conflict between wanting to end human bondage and the desire to keep buying cheap imported sugar for their tea.

If that sounds absurd and horrifying, keep in mind that it’s possible that up to 75 percent of chocolate consumed in developed countries is harvested by child labor, many of whom are outright slaves. As a society, we want to care about global injustice, but clearly not enough to have a notable effect on our purchasing decisions.

Just because China is working with the the U.S. on film production does not mean it’s open to importing western tolerance…

Like the British who turned a blind eye to slavery in the name of consumerism, tens of millions of Americans seem content to tune out the human suffering tied to how we spend our money, as long as they get what they want.

I fear that depending on China for the entertainment that fills our screens, big and small, will only further harden our hearts to the suffering of our fellow believers trapped under tyrannical rule.


This is SO me…

Rules Without ReasonsMike Leake
I’d have chomped on that fruit because, unless you explain the full reason for the rule and I agree with it, I’m not going to just obey. But that really was the point of the tree in the Garden…

I’m confronted daily with the same choice as our first parents. Am I going to say, “Well, that’s a dumb rule” and go about pretending I’ve got the power to change reality? Or am I going to stop pretending like God’s Word is made of wax and simply obey, even if I don’t really understand why I’m obeying?…

I get this as a parent. There are times when I simply cannot explain everything to my children. And I don’t need to explain everything to them. At that moment I need their obedience and their trust. Maybe we can talk about it later—but at that moment we don’t need to deliberate or decide if daddy’s rule is a valid one.


Context matters…usually…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 9:21-27

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:21-27
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Is there anything unclear about verse 22?
Why do you think these guys didn’t get it?
Is there anything unclear about verses 23-25?
Will you follow me to the cross…daily?
What do you spend your life trying to gain?
What are you willing to forfeit for it?
Do you really think it’s possible to have the gain without the forfeit?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

These Kids Own Me

These kids own me.

Iris, Asher and Oliver are my grandkids, and I simply cannot imagine, nor do I want to imagine, my life without them.

Two years ago there were only two of them. When I learned there would be another it was sort of hard to see how a third kid would fit into this. There’s simply no way another child would bring the sweetness and caring that Iris adds, or the exuberance for life that Asher brings. What would a third kid bring? What was lacking? I couldn’t imagine.

What was lacking was Oliver.

What was completely unclear two years ago is utterly obvious today. There was an Ollie shaped hole in our family and we didn’t even know it.

The blog will likely be quiet for the next few days because tonight these three kids will begin spending a few days with Nana and Pop while their mother gives birth to her fourth child, and our fourth grandchild.

Right now, it doesn’t seem like anything is missing. Our family feels complete. My heart feels full.

But I can’t wait to see who joins us to fill his own unseen hole.

Lloyd

 

Thursday Picks ~ 2-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I admit that I have the tendency to do this…

Stop Making Yourself the Hero of Bible StoriesAaron Earls
Hero Villain Storm Trooper BibleWe want to read the stories of the Bible and see ourselves as the heroes of the faith, the brave ones standing up in the face of persecution. But more often than not, we are the cowardly ones caving to temptation…

We are the failures, the rejects, the idolaters, the sinful, the prideful, the villains. But that’s the most wonderful part. God hasn’t called us to be the hero, only to follow the One who actually is….

The good news of the gospel is that you aren’t the hero of the story and you don’t have to be.


I haven’t decided if I agree with everything Tim says here, but he makes a compelling point…

Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack Movie
Tim Challies
God is not a human being. God is not like a human being in any way that can be explained by presenting him in an embodied form. God is so other that any visual representation harms instead of helps our understanding. Even as The Shack uses human beings in an attempt to lead people closer to God, it will actually lead them farther away. It must. J.I. Packer says, … “To make an image of God is to take one’s thoughts of him from a human source rather than from God himself; and this is precisely what is wrong with image-making.”

The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies.


I absolutely love this story! Take the time to watch the 5 and half minute video. This is one way that the concept of “missionary” is changing…

Redeemed to Go:
A Rescued Refugee Returns to Africa with the Gospel
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4oLPbqWcAA7FSE.jpg
The world has watched in horror over the last several years as millions of people have been displaced from their homes in South Sudan as a result of civil war. It’s easy to wonder what good can come from children and families being forced from their homes, torn from any sense of safety and security.

But in God’s amazing grace, he is redeeming the stories of these lives, one by one,  calling refugees to himself, and sending them back out to share the gospel with the nations. Abuk, a disciple of Christ and an IMB missionary, is one of them…

Abuk has now embarked on a journey to obediently answer God’s call to return to Africa to make disciples. Through her obedient response to the call to the nations, Abuk is subtly redefining what many people believe missionaries to be. Her humble spirit and inspiring story shows how they are ordinary followers of Jesus, each with his or her own story of redemption. And each with his or her own part to play in God’s mission.


Turns out, the incarnation was a pretty smart idea…

I’m Surprised That I Think There Is No GodTim Fall
andromeda-spiralThe fact that Jesus lived never leaves me. I believe in his life and that he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. I believe in his resurrection from the dead too. I believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be: God.

Then why do I doubt God’s existence at times?

Why do I look around me and wonder if there really is a God? This isn’t a philosophical type of wondering. I’m not thinking on problems such as how evil can exist if God is good and loving.

I’m thinking at times that maybe God doesn’t exist at all.

Yet I never doubt Jesus’ existence: his life, death and resurrection. How do these two mindsets square with each other: assurance of Jesus’ existence and occasional doubt of God’s existence?

I have no idea.

This is where the wisdom of the Incarnation comes in…


Mating Dance…
http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/ch/2017/ch170213.gif
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 9:18-20

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:18-20
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who do the crowds say that I am?
Who do you say that I am?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Luke 9:10-17

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:10-17
10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
It was getting late, and there are 5,000 people in a desolate place.
What was it about Jesus that a crowd like that would be drawn to a place like that, lose track of time, and not think about the next meal?
Was it just the miracles? There have been quite a few.
Was it just a show to them?
Is it possible they found something they needed?
Something more than healing and food?
What do you think it was?
What would it take for you to follow Jesus to a desolate place?
To be so captivated by him that you lost track of time?
That you forgot about eating?
What would happen if you did?
You needn’t worry.
He’s got plenty of leftovers.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Tuesday Picks ~ 2-14-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Why is this so hard?

Leading Your Church to Unity in WorshipEd Stetzer
I won’t deny I have personal preferences. For instance, it is clear that country and western music is not of God. (That’s another joke; don’t tell my friend Ricky Skaggs I said that.) Nevertheless, what I try to do is what we all should do in matters of preference and praise–commit to the reality that worship is not ultimately about us.

And because worship is not about us, I don’t think we end the worship wars in our local congregations merely by compromise. Compromise is noble; consensus is better. A truce just gets 100% of our church worshiping at 50%. It is not compromise we want, but unity.

So how do we get to that ever-elusive goal, that aim Jesus laid out for us in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17? Here are five ideas…

Pastored well, a healthy congregation will seek consensus on the positives of God’s glory and mission rather than settle for compromise on the negatives of personal preferences and styles. A church in consensus would rather have Jesus than the hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” A church in consensus will sing of God’s greatness rather than need “How Great is Our God” as their anthem. Music will not bring unity in of itself. Worship brings unity. So long as it is the worship of Jesus.


This is important…

Learning Habits of GraceDarryl Dash
170214We change differently than we think.

Many of us think that we are, as James K.A. Smith puts it, “brains on a stick.”

We view our bodies as (at best!) extraneous, temporary vehicles for trucking around our souls or “minds,” which are where all the real action takes place. In other words, we imagine human beings as giant bobblehead dolls: with humungous heads and itty-bitty, unimportant bodies.

This is reflected in how we disciple people. We cram people with more information, thinking that discipleship is mostly about absorbing new ideas.

To be sure, learning is important for discipleship. But we need more than new ideas. We need new habits.


So much work, art, creativity and money…

Rio’s Olympic venues, six months on – in pictures
Inside the Aquatics StadiumSix months after hosting South America’s first-ever Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Rio de Janeiro venues – some of which have been looted – sit mainly idle and already in disrepair, raising questions about a legacy that organisers promised would benefit the Brazilian city and its residents.


Things Calvinists Say on Valentine’s DayTim Fall
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/d9/4f/15/d94f15f7c6528ca37ac579c7003b3a8d.jpg

“If free will existed,
I’d choose you.”

Follow the link for more.


Extrovert business card…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDIvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwMjA5XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Luke 9:7-9

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:7-9
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What was happening that Herod heard about?
Think about the last few chapters of Luke.
Herod was perplexed.
What were some of the theories about Jesus?
What if the same things happened today?
What would the theories be?
What are some of today’s theories about Jesus?
Look for some theories being lived out in the people you know.
Do you recognize them?
Does it surprise you that some people are as perplexed as Herod?
It probably shouldn’t.
Also:
What theory about Jesus is being lived out by you?
Do people recognize it?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.